Letters

Letters 10-20-2014

Doctor Dan? After several email conversations with Rep. Benishek, he has confirmed that he doesn’t have a clue of what he does. Here’s why...

In Favor Of Our Parks [Traverse] City Proposal 1 is a creative way to improve our city parks without using our tax dollars. By using a small portion of our oil and gas royalties from the Brown Bridge Trust Fund, our parks can be improved for our children and grandchildren.

From January 1970 Popular Mechanics: “Drastic climate changes will occur within the next 50 years if the use of fossil fuels keeps rising at current rates.” That warning comes from Eugene K. Peterson of the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management.

Newcomers Might Leave: Recently we had guests from India who came over as students with the plan to stay in America. He has a master’s degree in engineering and she is doing her residency in Chicago and plans to specialize in oncology. They talked very candidly about American politics and said that after observing...

Someone Is You: On Sept 21, I joined the 400,000 who took to the streets of New York in the People’s Climate March, followed by a UN Climate Summit and many speeches. On October 13, the Pentagon issued a report calling climate change a significant threat to national security requiring immediate action. How do we move from marches, speeches and reports to meaningful work on this problem? In NYC I read a sign with a simple answer...

Necessary To Pay: Last fall, Grand Traverse voters authorized a new tax to fix roads. It is good, it is necessary.

The Real Reasons for Wolf Hunt: I have really been surprised that no one has been commenting on the true reason for the wolf hunt. All this effort has not been expended so 23 wolves can be killed each year. Instead this manufactured controversy about the wolf hunt has been very carefully crafted to get Proposal 14-2 passed.

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Monday, July 27, 2009

Flavorful Fustini‘s

Dining Nancy Krcek Allen Flavorful Fustinis
Oil & vinegar specialists tempt TC & Petoskey

By Nancy Krcek Allen 7/27/09

Lane and Jim Milligan want you to come and have fun with them in their new venture, Fustini’s. If you dream about a certain Iron Chef, read cookbooks instead of novels, talk about dinner before you’ve finished lunch or just like to eat, drop by their downtown Traverse City or Petoskey Gaslight District stores. You’re guaranteed a good time.
The Milligans sell oils and vinegars housed in stainless steel containers from Italy called fustini (or the singular fustino).
 
Monday, July 6, 2009

Eat more chocolate/Jack Torres Chocolates

Dining Nancy Krcek Allen Eat More Chocolate!
Jacques Torres Chocolates

By Nancy Krcek Allen 7/6/09

Kris Kruid has come home—and she brings chocolate. After 18 years in New
York City, and a dazzling time as partner, growing the Jacques Torres
Chocolates empire, Kruid decided to return to Traverse City. She has
opened the Northern Michigan outpost of the famed chocolatier.
 
Monday, June 29, 2009

The Blue Pelican Inn flies high

Dining Nancy Krcek Allen The Blue Pelican Inn Flies High
By Nancy Krcek Allen 6/29/090

Chris Corbett needed something to do, so he opened a restaurant in Central
Lake in 2003. When the five-year-old Blue Pelican burned down on July 29,
2008, Corbett didn’t miss a beat. He and his wife Merrie restored the
restaurant, added a new sunroom and kitchen, and changed its name to The
Blue Pelican Room.
 
Monday, May 25, 2009

Al Fresco at Amical

Dining Nancy Krcek Allen Al Fresco at Amical
Nancy Krcek Allen 5/25/09

In 1993, when would-be restaurateur and chef Dave Denison and partners leased a former quilt store on Front Street, they knew outdoor dining would give their restaurant a special place in diners’ hearts. So with considerable expense, they pushed the building back, engineered a support system underneath it and poured 22,000 pounds of concrete.
It cost more than anticipated. “(I know) people thought, ‘what are you doing? It’s just a coffee shop,’” says Denison. “We felt it would differentiate us from every other place. I still don’t know who has a completely covered patio street side. There are people who make a special trip Up North every year. In their minds they are saying, ‘I’m going to eat outside and I’m going to eat at Amical.’ I’ve had people just run and sit down—like musical chairs. It’s like they won the lottery. You’ve got to smile, because that’s what the patio is all about.”
Amical’s patio seats 31 guests. With its roof, drop screens and gas infrared heaters, you can dine outdoors spring, summer and fall—with an occasional winter day thrown in.
“New Year’s Eve two years ago we served out there,” says Denison. “It was full of people during the day and at night. If it’s around 25 to 30 degrees—and not windy, it’s not bad—and if we put pads on the seats, fire up all the heaters and it gets full, it’s warm.”
 
Monday, May 11, 2009

Siren Hall

Dining Nancy Krcek Allen The Tantalizing Call of
Siren Hall
By Nancy Krcek Allen 5/11/09

Next time you’re in Elk Rapids, listen closely and, if you’re lucky, you’ll hear the call of Siren Hall. You’d be well advised to follow this Siren’s call. Like Ulysses and his crew, you might find yourself spellbound; but unlike Ulysses, you’ll get to go home after dinner.
Siren Hall is Michael and Rebecca Peterson’s newest restaurant odyssey. The couple has converted a former downtown Elk Rapids antique shop and gas station into a chic, clean-lined contemporary restaurant featuring seafood.
“There’s a mariner tradition here like out east,” says Rebecca. “We wanted to play off that—to honor it. Cape Cod; Newport, Rhode Island; Bar Harbor, Maine; they do it really well. They have that tradition and history. As it turns out, Lake Michigan has it as well. I traveled on the cast-iron U.S.S. Badger as a kid and my great-aunt was a private nurse to one Mr. Edmund Fitzgerald.”
“We knew we wanted to do a seafood restaurant,” says Michael Peterson, the restaurant’s chef. “We spent time living on the East Coast. I love seafood; it’s what people want. We have a group that comes in for oysters. In the summer we have at least four or five different kinds. We don’t put a lot of fish on the menu—we bring it in as features. When it’s gone, it’s gone. That way we don’t hold onto it.”
 
Monday, April 20, 2009

Phil‘s on Front

Dining Nancy Krcek Allen Phil‘s on Front
Nancy Krcek Allen 4/20/09

Northern Michigan foodies will be happy to know that Phil Murray, former chef-owner of the popular restaurant, Windows, is back in the kitchen. This February Murray opened Phil’s on Front, a bistro and chocolate lounge.
Murray’s hits just keep on coming.
In 2006, after 21 years at Windows, Murray retired from restaurants. “I took lots of naps. I went bicycle riding. I opened Chocolate Exotica (and Windows Catering at West Front Market).” Murray smiles. “Then I got tired of having nights, weekends and holidays off.”
After a mission trip to Peru with Bob Foote and other eye doctors (no, he didn’t feed them—he helped with eye exams), Murray got a call from the owner of Ciao Bella, the space where Phil’s on Front is now located. “I think I had $19 in the bank,” says Murray. “I called old customers and investors and they came through. January 21 we began negotiating. We closed on February 2 and by February 12, we opened.”
 
Monday, April 6, 2009

Thai this

Dining Nancy Krcek Allen Thai This...
New café offers a taste of Thailand

By Nancy Krcek Allen


It may take a village to raise a child, but it takes an extended family, five kids and two cities to raise a restaurant. Not to mention talent, determination, nerves of steel and hard work. Myker Vang Hang has them all. Myker and her husband, Cheng Hang, are the owners of the newly opened Thai Café in Traverse City.
 
Monday, March 30, 2009

Small town Fusion offers big city fun

Dining Nancy Krcek Allen Small town Fusion offers big city fun
Nancy Krcek Allen 3/30/09

When Bobbiesee and Va Chong Ku decided to start looking for a restaurant, Bobbiesee’s father told them to “just drive down U.S. 31.” So they did. In 2003, the Kus bought the former Joann’s in downtown Frankfort and turned it into a thriving Pan-Asian restaurant. “We fell in love with Frankfort,” says Bobbiesee. “We wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”
In May 2008, the Kus bought and remodeled the former Rhonda’s Wharfside, just down the block from their first restaurant. The new Fusion takes you by surprise with its sleek, big-city look. “Our intention,” says Bobbiesee, “was to provide a better dining atmosphere. We didn’t want to raise prices—we want to give good service, great presentation and taste, for a value price.”
That kind of dedication paid off for Fusion, which earned top awards for Best Asian Food and Best Appetizers from Northern Express readers in 2008.
 
Monday, March 9, 2009

Martha‘s Leelanau Table

Dining Nancy Krcek Allen Everywhere you look, Martha Ryan’s new restaurant, Martha’s Leelanau Table, has a personal touch. Walk into this house-converted-into-restaurant on Suttons Bay’s main street and you’ll feel as if you are walking into a hip auntie’s home. Sunlight pours into the glassed-in sunroom, the walls are bright with color and a curio shelf on the dining room wall shows off a collection of mementos Ryan has gathered in her travels.
“This house had a family history before us,” says Ryan. “We built the wait station with a set of original drawers. The daughter of the previous owner, Ray Priest, came in and recognized her dad’s initials on them.”
Fond of European cuisine, Ryan features bistro and continental food with wine and beer. Her home-cooked dinner menu entices with dishes like chicken piccata, chicken Parmesan, braised hanger steak, roasted mussels, pasta, polenta, risotto, French onion soup and fondue.
 
Monday, February 2, 2009

Vasquez Hacienda

Dining Nancy Krcek Allen Many restaurateurs would tell you that it takes a family—not just any family, but a tight-knit family—to run a successful restaurant. Al and Elaine Vasquez’ Vasquez Hacienda is a case in point. They will celebrate the restaurant’s 35-year anniversary in September.
“I love the people—it’s a family thing,” says Elaine. “The kids who return to work summer after summer keep me young. They come back to see me with their kids—now I’m on to the third generation! I grew up in the restaurant business. My parents came here in 1948. They owned the Rainbow Gardens (where Pearl’s is now)—they were there 25 years. The circle goes on and on.”
“I have nine brothers and six sisters,” says Al. “They have all worked here off and on. My sister, Clelia Bolton, has been here since day one. My wife, Elaine, and Clelia run the kitchen. My sister-in-law, Mary Vasquez, waits tables. Our kids (Jennifer, Al Jr. and Nick) were brought up here. They have done it all: cooked, bartended, you name it they can do it. Nick does the entertainment on Friday and Saturday and Al Jr. sings. Al Jr. has a landscaping company so he mows the grass and snowplows for us.”
 
Monday, January 19, 2009

A Winter Dinner at Nonna‘s

Dining Nancy Krcek Allen Though Nonna’s sits on Leelanau County’s doorstep, it feels a world apart. As you drive up the winding, snow-covered expanse off M-22 near Glen Arbor that leads to the spacious Homestead resort grounds, it’s even quiet. So different from summer hubbub, it’s almost mysterious. Soothing.
John Kloo, the restaurant’s front-of-the-house manager, is the first person to greet you as you walk through the door into the intimate warmth of fireplace and food. In the background Sinatra sings popular Italian songs. “Nonna’s is Glen Arbor’s hidden gem,” says Kloo. “It’s the perfect little getaway.”
If you’ve lived here long enough you might remember the 52-seat restaurant through several incarnations — its last was as a spaghetti house. “When I first came here in 2005,” says executive chef John Piombo, “Nonna’s was red-checked plastic tablecloths. It just wasn’t my style.” Piombo left for a year to take a job in Miami, but he wasn’t really happy there. After a call from the Homestead, he returned in early 2008. With him came the white linen and sophisticated menu that reflect his sensibility.
 
Monday, December 29, 2008

The Cedar Rustic Inn

Dining Nancy Krcek Allen As near as a hairdresser is to your ear, your stylist might slip in a word about his or her favorite place to dine and drink.
You should listen up.
Hairdresser Mark Lizenby, owner of Hair Force One in Traverse City, has been planting good words about the Cedar Rustic Inn in Cedar. Lizenby is one of many Leelanau County locals who have discovered Cedar’s secret treasure.
“Mark is here every other day, to eat dinner or for carry-out,” says Nikki Ackley, who with husband and chef, Aaron, runs the Cedar Rustic Inn in Cedar. “We didn’t expect local loyalty so early—local people are our bread and butter. We couldn’t make it without them.” said Nikki Ackley.
The Ackleys have an impressive resumé of restaurant and bar experience. Aaron, a four-year graduate of the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, has been in the restaurant business since 1989. He has worked at Art’s Tavern, La Senorita, the Homestead, the Casino, Boone’s Prime Time, the Village Inn and the Cove. “We wind up knowing everybody because we’ve worked in so many places,” says Aaron.
“I have bachelor’s in English,” says Nikki. “I tried to find a job teaching, but it didn’t work out, so I waitressed. It prepared me for now.”
Nikki is the restaurant’s front-of-the-house manager. “In the winter I work mostly weekends.” She spends time with the couple’s two children, Annabelle, 4, and Adrienne, 5 months. “In the summer I work full-time.”
 
Monday, December 22, 2008

Everyone is a local at Art‘s Tavern

Dining Nancy Krcek Allen The ancient Chinese philosopher Chuang Tzu once commented on how inexhaustibly rich and different is sameness. He could have been describing Art’s Tavern in Glen Arbor. If he’d ever had a conversation with owner Tim Barr, Chuang Tzu would likely have found a philosophical comrade.
“Our philosophy is no change -- but change,” says Barr. Barr’s efforts to keep Art’s the same -- while fostering slow, responsive and renewing change -- has kept summer hordes coming back year after year. “When we needed to put in new windows, we designed a plastic window that looked exactly like the old one. We replaced the old booths and made sure that the angle of the back, and the seat, were as near the same as the old ones. People waiting in line in summer will say to me, ‘Why don’t you put on an addition so you can seat us faster?’ I tell them that then we’d be like every other restaurant.”
Art’s familiar atmosphere has sometimes come with costs the public doesn’t see. “I spent almost half a million to straighten out our sewer system,” says Barr. “It was originally set up as a shared deal with the next door neighbor. I ended up buying the property and set up a state-of-the-art system to treat our waste water.”
The changes that do come are often at the urging of Tim’s wife, Bonnie Nescott. “My wife was the one who, before it was popular, urged me to bring in specialty beers and the different toppings for our burgers. We brought in salads because it was what she liked to eat. Our clientele has changed. When I bought Art’s in 2000, it was just burgers and fries. Now we sell more food than liquor.”
 
 
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